Pros Ease of Use, Battery life, price
Cons sound quality (emphasis), are these headphones?
Summary I have owned a Sony NW-HD5 for the past year, and have been spoiled by the sound quality it produces. However, I couldn't pass up picking up this new Ipod (as I've been an avid dissenter of "IPod Culture" for the better part of 3 years) because of the many features taht were added, battery life in particular. The ability to play movies, games, and such are very nice as well, and the 80 gig hard drive and 349 price make it a steal.
With the good comes the bad as well. The sound quality from the Ipod does not compare to the Sony, in terms of overall clarity. The bass often time blends into the music failing to define itself as the beat. I've listened to the same songs on both the Sony and the Ipod through the new Bose Quiet Comfort 3 headphones and there really is no comparison in terms of sound quality. However, the Ipod is just infinitely more convenient, which is why I like it. The ability to make playlists on the go, Itunes over sonicstage, and the many many available accessories for the product give it an edge over all other mp3 players on the market.
Please do yourself a favor if you buy this Ipod or any Ipod, go out and buy some real headphones. As much as Apple has done a tremedous job marketing their product the quality of their headphones is absolutely atrocious. For a 350 piece of equipment do yourself, and everyone around you (since they can probably hear your music leaking through the stock headphones) a favor and buy sony's $30 sound isolating ear buds, the clarity you will get out of the hi's and lo's of your ipod will increase tenfold.
"Comparison Shopping"on by itango
Pros great user interface design; cool factor
Cons no FM radio; poor sound quality; short battery life
Summary Prior to buying an MP3 player, I borrowed a friend's 30 gig iPod for a trial run. I also borrowed this 80 gig iPod. I finally bought the Creative Zen Vision M 30 gig MP3 player. Although the user interface lozenge of the Zen takes some trial and error, I love the sound quality, the FM radio (for times when I tire of the music and books on tape), and it has an amazing battery life (compared to the iPod). The screen graphics are also far superior. I only listen to songs I rip and burn from purchased CDs, as I do not want the hassle of DRM, so not having iTunes does not affect me at all.
Pros Slick and sturdy, with gapless playback & good battery life.
Cons no EQ available, and scratches easily. I also wish it had a power adapter
Summary Ok so this isn't exactly one of those rediculous PMP's yet. But The iPod isn't about what's on the paper. It can't record voice or tv or anything like that. It can't play full movies comfortably on it's 2.5 inch screen. It also can't make you a pot of coffee or tuck you into bed at night. So what?
If you want to put some music videos or short commedy clips to share a laugh with friends on it, or throw some pictures so you can show how you broke you arm in a crash, then this works great. It's original design, remember, is music. not a full computer replacement.
The 80GB is big, and not many people I know have enough time to fill that, let alone listen to 80 GB of music or movies. It's small in size, making it easier than a brick to take around. Controls are always great, and no cumbersome buttons are around to find. It's a uniform machine.
Gapless playback it wonderful. It's smooth and crates a wonderful listening experience, especially with Pink Floyd's The Wall. 20 hours of battery life is just fine, as I can charge it up almost every night, after maybe 5 hours of listening a day, 6 hours tops. I'll get a power adapter so I can charge it on the road. No personal EQ, unfortunately, but that doesn't mean that the music sounds bad. It still is crisp and clean.
Video is good, but remember, it's not made for long movies yet. I got a portable DVD player that is 10 inches, and is much better than a little 4 inch screen on a PMP. And dealing with DVD copywrights and all are a pain, so keeping it simple here is what it's all about. And who takes bunches of cords around with them for recording a tv show???
They have iTunes, which helps the artists make a deserving profit off of what they make for everyone, everyday. Pirating is a problem, and apple has helped the industry a lot. That may seem bad, but music is what I use everyday, and have no problem paying a few bucks for it.
I used to HATE iPod as many still do, but after going through iRiver, iAudio (which I still like), archos, samsung, and creative, iPod seems to just work.
Pros iTunes content, memory, 3rd party accessories, sleek
Cons Average sound quality, sharing is a nightmare, stuck w/ Apple forever
Summary "iPod World"
I'm one of those "wouldn't be caught dead with an iPod on my waste" types. Like many of you, I've had or tried several portable music devices - waiting in vain for the proverbial "iPod Killer". It never came and I doubt it ever will. I've used an Archos 400 for a couple of years and it has been great (especially sound wise), but I outgrew it. I've also toyed with Zune, Zen, and Toshiba Gigabeats. I took them all back for 2 big reasons: 1) getting content I wanted wasn't easy, 2) we live in an iPod world.
I hate to admit it, but the signs of the times are clear - iPod will be dominating the market for a while because iTunes has the widest content in one place, iPod has the largest number of 3rd party accessories (including BMW/luxury car integration!), and they've mastered the space/size thing better than anyone.
"Sound is a Real Issue. Sharing is painful"
The principle downside, other than conformity, is that the iPod sound quality is average - not bad, just not great. This is a real issue for any sound gurus. There are ways to hide it with equalizer setting, other accesories (i.e. docks, headphones, etc.), etc. but there is no getting around this obvious weakness. It is even apparent to my wife who by no means considers herself a techie. Again, it's average and many people won't notice or care. However, I expect this to improve with later versions. My other gripe is the "sharing" issue, especially since I use both an iMac and a PC. Why can't I push my non-iTunes content to another computer? (I hope Apple changes this annoying limitation). After days of tweaking and 3rd party add on software, I now have my libraries almost set.
"Jam-packed with Content. Only going up."
My 80 gig iPod video is packed with iTunes songs, my CDs, music videos, movies, tv shows, audiobooks, and podcasts and I'm still only about 40% full! 30 gigs just can't cut it anymore. Plus, we know Apple won't stop at 80 gigs - we all want portable Libraries of Congress!
I give a 9/10, mostly for the average sound, otherwise it's a 10. In my mind, the "total package" is hands down the best out there.
Bottom Line: if you don't plan on buying online music and you are happy with few accessories, don't buy an iPod - gigabeat, Zen, and Archos all have much better sound and equally good or better video. If you are like me and see yourself buying TV shows, movies, music, audobooks, etc. online and you don't want to restart your collection again in a couple years, play it safe and get an iPod. You can be guaranteed that you will have a "player" in the game no matter who else tries to compete. - Sorry so long...
Pros slim, large capacity, new low price, gapless, ease of use with iTunes, accessories
Cons No user EQ, bland GUI, few video codecs, battery not replaceable, SCRATCHES!
Summary I rate this iteration of the iPod a 7 because to me it's not really a new generation of the iPod, even tho it's being called the "5.5G" iPod. The fourth generation ("4G") iPod started out with the removal of the four buttons under the screen of the 3G, and integration of those functions within the click wheel, ala the Mini. But the initial 4G iPod was a monochrome screened iPod.....later, the 4G iPod got a color screen, and was then called the iPod "Photo", but it was still the "4G" iPod....so the latest iPod upgrade is still the "5G" iPod, IMO.
Usually the iPod has been known to raise the standard bar to a certain degree in styling and ease of use, and other Digital Audio Player (DAP) makers would follow. In the case of the 5.5G iPod, however (as well as the 2G Nano, it seems that Apple is having to play "catch-up" to respond to other DAP-makers challenges.
The 5.5G iPod is basically the 5G iPod: still looks the same, still feels the same, with only a few feature upgrades. New features such as gapless playback, the brighter screen, brightness control settings, and the interactive search feature, are all features that have been implemented by other DAP-makers for quite some time. In fact, the gapless feature is not a feature of the iPod at all: it's implemented into the new iTunes 7, which analyzes your music library, and "adjusts" the music by removing the gaps, before it's downloaded, or synced, onto the iPod. There is new firmware for the iPod that accepts the new implementation, but really iTunes 7 should get this credit more than the iPod. But since the iPod can now play this gapless music, with the assistance from iTunes 7, then I guess it's better than nothing.
It's just funny to me how when this feature, along with the brightness control, interactive search, a FM tuner, a user EQ, voice recording, or on-the-go playlisting was always listed as "Pro's" for other DAP's, they were summarily dismissed and laughed at by the iPod faithful as being "geeky" techno frills, and irrelevant. Now that the iPod has (some of)these features, CNET has to provide an unprecedented, in-depth analysis and dissection of each feature (gapless, brightness control, etc.), which was never done before with the other DAP's. But then, if CNET didn't, there would be nothing to review here, would there?
The brightness control is a good thing, if for no other reason you can adjust it down and save battery life. I thought the screen brightness was fine before, with the 5G iPod. The big problem, though, is the wasted screen real-estate of the iPod's screen. There's too much empty white, which makes the added brightness even more uncomfortable to view, unless you're viewing photos or a video. Why could'nt Apple come up with colorful wallpapers, backgrounds, and themes?? Now that the Creative Zen Vision:M, Toshiba Gigabeat S, iRiver Clix, and soon the Microsoft Zune have these features, the iPod's GUI looks old, and dated. I'm surprised at this ommitted upgrade...
The search feature, like gapless, is also welcome - as any added feature to the iPod would be, since the iPod has so few features. But seriously, any DAP with the storage capacities of the iPod really should include some form of interactive search function as a default, as the libraries are just too large for manual seek-and-find expeditions. But once again, as with gapless, the iPod is playing "catch-up" here. The interaction of this feature is definitely inferior to the feature on the Zen Vision:M, which uses a graphical qwerty keypad, and can search more categories than the iPod's feature, such as genre, etc. The Vision:M's feature looks nicer, and more thought-out and refined than the iPod's. This may hark back to my GUI issue above...
About the only upgrade to the iPod that I consider to be both exclusively attributable to the iPod, as well as a pro-active upgrade, is the capacity increase. But again, I have to consider that the vast majority of the iPod masses, or the DAP masses for that matter, do not have such massive music libraries that will require such size. I know 2 other people that have the large 30GB 5G iPod, and they both have 5-10GB of music, photos, and videos on them. The discontinued 60GB 5G iPod would've been more than sufficient for holding music, as well as a vast video library....the 80GB 5.5 iPod will be excessive.
Of course, there will always be some out there who would prefer a 200GB iPod, but they do not represent the iPod nation at all: there's a reason why the 4GB-6GB iPod Mini was (and still may be) the best-selling iPod ever, and why the 1GB iPod Shuffle and 2GB-8GB iPod Nano easily out-sells the full-sized iPod....
So after that, we are left with the same iPod, with the same (basically) design since 2001, and the same highly scratchable body. There have been more people screaming for a user EQ than there have been for gapless. The color screen and video playback is still bested by other DAP's that have been out there for the better part of a year (Vision:M, Gigabeat S), and the audio quality is bested, as well (Vision:M, iAudio X5). The new prices are great, but even tho the 30GB Zen Vision:M was at $299 (MSRP: it has since been lowered to match the 30GB iPod's $249), you could buy it for around $250-$260 at several online sites. So based on what's really put on the table, I give it a 7: OK, but definitely could be better.